Dense but compelling ... The Tudors in Love is at its best at these moments, when Gristwood’s prism of courtly love is smashed by the cruelty of power politics and we get the gripping — and heartbreaking — history of trapped royal women over more than a century ... We have seen and read so many depictions of Catherine as a sobbing victim that it’s refreshing here to be reminded that once married to Henry, she reigned over a cultured, respectful court ... Gristwood likewise manages to humanize Catherine’s Catholic daughter, 'Bloody' Mary ... Gristwood’s Mary burns with vivid emotional suffering.
Sarah Gristwood skips the pretense of the standard historical political study to get right to the courtly love ... [The Tudors in Love] does not just retell the familiar stories but adds the great not-so-well-known background, that requires doing so in many pages and words. For the Tudor history lover, this work will open new views in fast easy prose but thoroughly, and by necessity, with a lot of ground to cover.
The title of Gristwood’s sixth book, The Tudors in Love, might produce an eyeroll from those who are tired of our long love affair with England’s most romantically dysfunctional dynasty. However, this book stands out on the crowded bookshelves by showing that the Tudors were just as obsessed with reading about the doomed romantic royals who had gone long before them ... [Gristwood] does a superb job in distilling the vast amount of modern scholarship on this topic ... The disconnection between romance and realpolitik is brutally and entertainingly illuminated by Gristwood.